Couple's silence irks locals

A recommendation to approve a private plan change permitting nearly 1400 new dwellings on land near Wanaka (pictured) has angered residents in the area including (from left) Barry South, Noelene Pullar and Jan and Bruce Paulson. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A recommendation to approve a private plan change permitting nearly 1400 new dwellings on land near Wanaka (pictured) has angered residents in the area including (from left) Barry South, Noelene Pullar and Jan and Bruce Paulson. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
The Queenstown couple behind the Northlake development on the edge of Wanaka declined to discuss it with the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

The director of Queenstown company Southern PR, Fiona Woodham, issued a press statement on behalf of Michaela Ward Meehan and her husband, Chris Meehan, but a request for an interview was rejected.

''I have to say both Chris and Michaela are very media shy.

''That's just the way that they are.

''And I do know that from having dealt with them previously they really don't like to be upfront, you know?''

The recommendation by commissioners Lyal Cocks and David Whitney to allow a plan change paving the way for nearly 1400 new houses on the outskirts of Wanaka was made public by the Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday.

A nearby resident who joined the legal fight against the plan change said he had never met the couple and described them as ''elusive''.

He would have preferred to have been informed of their intentions as the proposal progressed, and he believed an access road into the subdivision had been achieved ''through the back door''.

Aubrey Rd resident Jan Paulson believed Mrs Ward Meehan had bought her property when prices dropped.

''And now she's come back.

''She's got no interest in the community, no interest in how the community works or looks. All she's interested in is making some money.''

When asked if the scale of the proposal might require the couple to be more accessible to the media, Ms Woodham repeated the couple were ''quite private people and they prefer to just work behind the scenes''.

''And that's genuinely what they are like.''

The couple operate several Auckland-based companies under the name of Winton Partners - Winton being the town where it is understood Chris Meehan comes from.

The Companies Office shows Michaela Ward Meehan to be the sole shareholder and director of the various Winton Partners companies, none of which appear to mention Chris Meehan.

While Mr Meehan attended the six-day hearing into the plan change in Wanaka in February, Mrs Ward Meehan was not sighted by the ODT reporter who attended.

It has been reported previously Mrs Ward Meehan, who is Danish, was an Olympic sailing competitor.

In 2000, Australia's Sun Herald described Chris Meehan as someone who was young and ambitious who ''wants a slice of Australian real estate'', and The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2004 Mr and Mrs Meehan had as guests at their wedding Princess Mary of Denmark and her husband, Prince Frederik.

Princess Mary, who is Australian by birth, was previously Mr Meehan's personal assistant.

Earlier this year, Mountain Scene reported that Winton Partners NZ Ltd bought prime waterfront development land beside the Hilton hotel complex at Kelvin Heights and was selling off some sections.

Mrs Ward Meehan had recently shifted her family from Sydney to Queenstown, the paper said.

She is also the developer for the existing 64-lot Northlake subdivision - most of which were presold.

• Several submitters spoken to by the ODT yesterday were surprised they had not been made aware the recommendation had been made public.

QLDC communications manager Michele Poole said submitters were being emailed yesterday afternoon ''but the decision isn't official until it's accepted by the council and that is normally the trigger for advising submitters of the outcome''.

Wanaka developement

What a wonderful social conscience the property developers for North Lake have. Affordable housing for Wanaka. Reality check needed here. Developers, especially non-residential developers, are interested in one thing: making money. The council is only interested in one thing - gaining revenue from increasing the rating base. This whole thing smacks of having no foresight of the negative impacts - social, logistical and environmental. The QLDC charge a higher rating levy for owners who rent their homes out as holiday lets, the reason being (according to them) the extra strain being put on local resources. Have a look on their web site, it's all there. What do the powers that be think this and other projects are doing/will do to the township?  What a complete nonsensical farce. QLDC - Quickly Lose Desirable Countryside. There are also a lot of other acronyms you could use for the Council if you use the D to stand for Developers.   

Affordable housing

Affordable housing is a complete smokescreen for a massive real estate development which is completely at odds with the surrounding rural residential lots. It will severely impact the landscape views from existing residents of Aubrey Road and visitors walkig the Mt Iron track, will create a huge burden on Wanaka's infrastructure, and it will negatively impact on all those who use the cycle tracks, walkways and quiet riverside areas.
This development is is not consistent with the majority of submissions received during the planning hearings, nor the views expressed over the planning for the future discussions. With the Three Parks subdivision underway those who have chosen to live in rural residential sections on the outskirts of Wanaka now face being hemmed in by two new retail precincts and 4400 new houses.
This isn't nimbyism, it's a plea to council to listen to the voices of Wanaka which have been overlooked consistently in recent years. Developers are chasing money (and fair enough) but they must also listen to the voices of the community in which they wish to develop.
The Meehans are simply refusing to enter a discussion with the very people who are affected by their enterprise, and the QLDC appears to be rubberstamping their development despite the views of the ratepayers. Roll on the next election.

Short-sighted

Great - more rate rises, more water shortages, more traffic jams in the town centre, etc. Bad decisions like this are ruining the very thing that attracts people to Wanaka. Even the council planners could see the stupidity of allowing a development on this scale.

Once again Lyall Cocks has over-ridden the wishes of residents in favour of non-resident developers and big business... no surprises there.

Need developments for affordable housing

If we want affordable housing then housing developments like this should be encouraged instead of developers being maligned. Nimbyism is one of the reason house prices are so high.

Somewhat surprised

I am somewhat surprised that Mr Cocks, who suffered a huge loss of votes in the last election, apparently still has the power to influence the direction of Wanaka's future.  He should have stepped back in my opinion because his considerable loss of votes was an indication that the Wanaka community was not happy with his performance and stance.